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Tears in the Vagina, Perineum, Sphincter Ani, and Rectum and First Sexual Intercourse after Childbirth: A Nationwide Follow-up

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT: 

Background: The first sexual intercourse after childbirth may be challenging for women, especially if the birth resulted in injuries in the genital area. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether or not tears in the vagina, perineum, sphincter ani, or rectum hindered sexual intercourse during the year after childbirth. Methods: We obtained information from 2,490 women in a population-based cohort identified at antenatal care. Information about first sexual intercourse was collected by means of a questionnaire sent 1 year after birth to the women and about women’s tears reported in the population-based Swedish Medical Birth Register. Results: Adjusted relative risks with 95 percent confidence intervals for not having had sexual intercourse within 3 and 6 months, respectively, after childbirth were 1.5 (95% CI 1.2–1.8) and 1.6 (95% CI 1.2–2.3) for tears in the vagina, 1.4 (95% CI 1.1–1.6) and 1.5 (95% CI 1.1–2.1) for tears in the perineum, and 2.1 (95% CI 1.4–3.1) and 2.2 (95% CI 1.1–4.6) for tears in the sphincter ani and rectum. No statistically significant differences were found at 1-year follow-up. No associations between episiotomy and delay in resuming intercourse were found after adjusting the relative risks. Conclusions: Tears in the vagina, perineum, sphincter ani, or rectum are associated with a delay in women’s resumption of sexual intercourse 6 months after childbirth in Sweden. (BIRTH 35:2 June 2008)

Keywords: anal sphincter; childbirth; lacerations; obstetric forceps; sexual intercourse

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1523-536X.2008.00222.x

Affiliations: 1: Ann Olsson is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Caring Science, Danderyd Hospital, Karolinska Institutet, Solna 2: Eva Nissen is an Associate Professor in the School of Life Science, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden. 3: Christine Rubertsson is a Midwife and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Caring Sciences and Public Health, Mälardalen’s University, Eskilstuna

Publication date: June 1, 2008

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